About nagpra

San Diego State University acknowledges its presence on Kumeyaay land and serves a county with 17 federally recognized Tribal Nations, in addition to non-federally recognized Tribes and lineal descendants. We respect Native American legacy, sovereignty and cultural traditions, and support the repatriation of all ancestral remains and cultural items. Our compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) dates to the 1990s.  The university’s NAGPRA Task Force has redoubled its efforts in ensuring continued compliance at the state and federal levels. In adherence with the law, SDSU conducts audits and maintains an inventory of specified cultural items, and returns items through a respectful consultative process.

Purpose and Activities

Priorities for the SDSU NAGPRA Task Force include the following actions:

  • Help ensure that the university, and its research community, remains in compliance with the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 275 (AB 275) and federal law.
  • Collaborate with colleagues from across the university to identify any human remains, associated funerary objects, unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, objects of cultural patrimony, and other cultural items that might be in the possession of the university.
  • Maintain an inventory of any cultural items within the university’s holdings.
  • Work with the California Native American Heritage Commission and Native American Tribes throughout California to facilitate repatriation, an effort that the university began in the 1990s when federal NAGPRA legislation was first passed.
  • Provide both the Office of the President and the Office of the Provost with recommendations on policy and procedures, and overall implementation of NAGPRA.

University Actions

Repatriation is an ongoing and active process. Our university has had success in repatriating items due to intentional efforts dating back to the 1990s, efforts begun well before the 2020 amendments to CalNAGPRA. Over the last several years in particular, SDSU has done the following:

  • Established a committee and ultimately launched the SDSU NAGPRA Task Force group to ensure compliance with new legislation. These groups have been formed to address new NAGPRA legislation, to schedule regular meetings with Native American and Tribal representatives, and to document university progress with repatriation efforts. 
  • Implemented plans to proactively contact Native American and Tribal groups and nations on an annual basis to inform them of the holdings, namely through sending consultation invitation letters to federally recognized Tribes, non-federally recognized Tribes, and lineal descendants identified by the California Native American Heritage Commission as having cultural affiliation with ancestral remains and cultural items held by SDSU.
  • Completed in 2022 acampus-wide survey to update its inventory of cultural items and to assess for university-wide compliance with state and federal laws. SDSU will conduct future campus-wide surveys to ensure continued compliance.
  • SDSU has regularly scheduled consultation meetings with the Kumeyaay, specifically with representatives from the Kumeyaay Cultural Repatriation Committee.
  • Offered education to new faculty on NAGPRA and review of any cultural items/human remains they may hold.
  • Advocate for and partner with Tribes to support their needs and capacity for repatriation.

SDSU Task Force Members 

The SDSU NAGPRA Task Force is a multi-disciplinary body comprised of administrators, faculty and staff, including librarians and research faculty: 

William Tong, Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Jaime Lennox, University NAGPRA Coordinator; Director, Collections Management Program
Seth Mallios, NAGPRA Faculty Liaison; University History Curator; Professor of Anthropology; Director, South Coastal Information Center
Arion T. Mayes, Associate Professor Biological Anthropology
Ramona L. Pérez, Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Center for Latin American Studies, Director or the  Aztec Identity Initiative
Jacob Alvarado Waipuk, Chair of Tribal Relations, Tribal Liaison
Scott Walter, Dean, University Library

The College of Arts and Letters Dean will also serve as a member once appointed.

contact Jaime Lennox if you have any questions

University Resources

SDSU recognizes the importance and significance of Federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (CalNAGPRA) activities, and has a long history of compliance since the 1990s. Other resources are available for more information.